Julie Wise Oreck, a ‘fifth-generation Louisiana Jew’ and philanthropist, was interviewed on July 2, 2007 by Rosalind Hinton. The wife of Marshall Oreck, an executive at the Oreck vacuum corporation, she has served on the boards of many Jewish organizations, particularly those supporting Israel advocacy, youth causes, and education. Displaced from her home by the flooding after Hurricane Katrina, she traveled to Houston with her mother and two daughters, where they stayed in a hotel for weeks. [It was unclear exactly how long they were there.] This interview focuses on her emotional experiences of displacement and return, and her work to support and rebuild New Orleans’ Jewish communities. It also covers her religious development over the course of her life, from her childhood in a very community-minded, secular Reform family, to the loss of her father as a young woman, to her inspiring trips to Vilna and Israel.
This oral history was conducted by Rosalind Hinton for a joint project by the Jewish Women's Archive partnered with the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life (ISJL) to capture the voices and experiences of members of the Jewish communities of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast communities during Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. For more information, see katrina.jwa.org/about#about-oral-history